• Gina Fegan

Chapter 22. The pressure is on.

Updated: Jul 16, 2020

“Jesus Christ! You frightened the life out of me. You shouldn’t creep up on people!’ Maeve said startled, she almost, but didn’t, wake Marieanne. 

Kamal, was calm, “is okay, she is asleep, and she can not hear me anyway. But you are distracted. I can feel that it is still urgent you find the killer. You need to do more research at the University.” Maeve had wanted at least a little time to get her life back to some level of normality, but that clearly wasn’t going to happen. She sighed as she asked, “what am I looking for? I met Kevin, did you know him? I think he was like a Uni support staff, maybe he helped with equipment? Is he the guy I need to talk to?” Kamal, thought before he spoke, “yes, I know who you mean. I love Britain but he is part of the English I do not like. He pretended to be a friend but he is racist. He doesn’t always tell the truth, he twists facts. But he has information that will help you. Also you must look at others in the Uni. He was not alone.” 

Maeve was about to demand further names and details when she realised she was now talking to herself. They had turned off the motorway as Marieanne took a leisurely stretch and said “I can see the Cathedral, almost home. It’s only been two days but it feels like a real break.” Yes, Maeve thought, regardless of Kamal’s comments there wasn’t much she could do, it was late and tomorrow, on a Sunday normal offices are closed. She might get a day to spend with the family and catch up with the mundane like grocery shopping, then go full pelt on Monday morning.

Sunday morning turned out to be one of those relatively rare glorious hot sunny days of early summer. On the spur of the moment Maeve suggested, “Why don’t we carry on with the holiday feeling and do something touristy before Ada and Orla get here?” Following Marieanne’s wishes they had had their Sunday morning croissants and coffee. “We could pretend we really are tourists and do one of those walking tours? I had thought of being a guide so it could be market research?”, said Marieanne as she joined in the spirit of ‘let’s get out of the house so that we don’t fall into a routine and miss the glorious day’. For Marieanne today was the last day of her ‘study break’, so to enjoy it, spending time with Maeve when it was just the two of them, was perfect.  

They got into town in time to join the 11am walking tour, whilst trying out their adopted tourist-like American accents, they were a bit giddy and definitely the naughty ones at the back. As they walked the tour got more interesting, their guide really knew his stuff. In fact when they had stopped laughing at each other and took a good look he was handsome, tanned, clean shaven and sharply dressed, he didn’t look like the usual fare. Well spoken and knowledgeable he’d shown them Elizabeth I’s ceiling in Cafe Nero, the pilgrim’s hostel, Dickens’ part of Canterbury, and the largest possibly oldest theatre in England, now the Three Tuns pub, which sits on part of the stage of the Roman theatre. One of the group put forward the theory, “if only the ghosts could talk, I bet there would be some hairy tales!”, to which he replied “that would be on the other kind of tour, there is a ‘ghost hunters tour’ if you are interested.” Their guide seems a little dismissive, but Maeve and Marieanne were both very happy to avoid the ghost hunters tour, they had had enough contact with the spirit world for the time being. 

As this was the end of the walk and they were standing outside the Three Tuns, they offered their guide a drink in the pub, which he accepted. Most of the group drifted away, a few lingered with specific questions, “is it true that there are tunnels under Canterbury to sneak in and out of the Cathedral? Was St Martin’s a Mithraic temple before it was a Christian Church?”, all of which he answered with patience, “yes there are tunnels under the city as you would expect given its age and the rock formation, yes we believe that St Martin’s Church was a temple dedicated to the Roman cult of Mithras. Thank you for all the interesting questions, I hope you enjoy the rest of your stay in Canterbury.” Which was a reasonably elegant brush off and arrived in time for the cool lagers that Maeve and Marieanne brought to their table. 

He began with “Thank you. You both arrived a little after the others, I’m Tony Blackstone, and you are?” They introduced themselves and explained that they were in fact locals, Tony said “I thought you might be. I am a sort of local having been here for the last ten years.” Maeve was still intrigued, “are there really tunnels? I read about one being opened up in the Cathedral, but really it was just a passage under the main stairs to the altar. And if you don’t mind my asking how do you know so much? Are you part of the Archeological Trust?” He smiled “first things first. Yes it is believed that there is a tunnel from Buttermarket to the Cathedral, I guess for monks who missed the curfew, and yes some of this is my field, I am a lecturer in Archeology at the University of Kent. I like all of modern history, I think of it as a soap opera, the connections with Charles Dickens and Rupert Bear are fun, like gossip. But my real area is early medieval so I spend quite a bit of time in the Cathedral. They have an extraordinary library. Kent County Council also has a lot of fascinating documents if you are interested”, he sensed they might be losing interest. In fact far from getting bored Maeve had been wondering if he could help with some context around Kevin, “Maybe you could help?, I have been doing some research into UKC”, she said while looking at Marieanne to make sure that she would go along with her cover story, “we are looking at Universities for my younger daughter and she asked about extra curricular activities? Would it be okay to meet up sometime for a coffee and a chat, so that you can tell her what it's really like?” Maeve knew it was a bit cheeky but he was cute and Orla was a better liar than Marieanne. Tony, a gregarious person by nature, and flattered that Maeve so clearly found him attractive, gave off a sense that he might be aware that he was ‘God’s gift’, smiled a “sure, anytime.” Then a pause as he thought and went on “Actually, I guess you are going to take me up on that so what I really mean is anytime I am not in class or underground. I have to finish up some work I’m in the middle of right now, and the documents are held here in town in the Cathedral archives but if you are serious, then can I suggest that later today would work? Up at the University. I know I will be tied up during the week and Sunday’s are the best day for me.” 

They laughed as they walked home picking up a few bits for supper as neither had the energy to face a supermarket shop. Marieanne was doing the post-mortem “Yes, he was definitely good looking, and interesting, but did you not smell the aftershave? I would call that overpowering! So not my type plus he might be a little young for you Mum, but definitely far too old for me. Frankly, for you, I prefer your policeman, he may be a conservative with a small ‘c’, but he is kind, has a nice smile, and cheeky twinkly eyes which means he might be fun if we didn’t only meet him when there was a crisis.” Marieanne was thinking as she spoke and went on “Actually that is a good sign, he is good in a crisis, and we know that for sure!” Maeve laughed indulgently enjoying the more adult relationship she was developing with Marieanne. She was feeling pretty good about things in general, yes she did have work to do but now she might have an ally, who was good to look at and well he had almost made it a date. Her energy and good humour had been restored by last night's deep sleep along with the embracing family time; life was certainly interesting and she was ready to face it.

It was mid afternoon when Steve called, “we have had a situation change at this end. The missing bloke, Adam Goodman is his name, he’s not a teacher, he was due to give a lesson but actually he is a PhD student at the University. More importantly his family have now been in touch and what we didn’t know is that he is a Type 1 diabetic. The family says that he always takes some emergency insulin with him and some sugar snacks, you know those fruit bars, and some glucose sweets. All of which means he’s okay for a day or two but he is likely to suffer hyperglycemia after that, so may be in a daze or fall into a coma. Everyone is different so no one knows exactly how long he can survive without insulin. He might be okay, but it's a matter of days maximum.” “What is he studying?”, was Maeve’s first question. “Archeology. I don’t have access to all of the files and as I explained, I am acting in a supporting role here, helping out a colleague… But any information that you can find out from your side might speed things up and might be the very thing that saves his life!”

As Steve said the word ‘Archeology’, Maeve ever the optimist thought ‘is this just weird or is the universe trying to send me some help?’ The question she might have asked was, ‘or is the universe leading me astray?’

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